Disney Gets MA
Also: watch the superb 'Bao' before the upcoming 'Turning Red.'
Now Streaming: Just last week, I noted that Disney Plus has been targeting adults who may or may not have children of their own for some time now, "even beyond the adult-leaning fare that's been available since Day One of the streaming service."
To cement that notion, the service is now in the process of "retooling parental controls," per The Hollywood Reporter, and for good reason. Marvel's small-screen shows -- Daredevil, The Punisher and the like -- have left Netflix and will be arriving March 16 on Disney Plus. Those shows were created with adult audiences in mind. Some of them, if not all, are self-rated TV-MA.
Up to now, Disney Plus has not featured any programs that were self-rated TV MA or rated R by the MPAA. That meant any adult, such as myself, could choose to watch any title on the service without fear of being assaulted by profanity, bloody and explicit action scenes, steamy and explicit love scenes and other features often associated with "adult" programming. (I choose to avoid watching anything with a supernatural bent as well, so I still have to keep a careful eye out.)
The "re-tooled" parental controls are no doubt intended to match the individual's profile with similar rating limits that are present on many, if not most or all, streaming services. (I just checked a few minutes ago, and the parental controls have not yet been updated, though I'd forgotten that you can already set controls from TV-14 down to TV-Y.)
I trust that the new parental controls, accessible only with the appropriate password, which can also be guarded with a four-digit PIN, will reassure parents, as well as those of us who have no burning desire to soak in the TV-MA Disney shows again and again.
It reminds me, though, of the decision to expand the HBO brand to encompass many other types of programming in its streaming service, HBO Max. If someone was accustomed to watching a certain type of intelligent adult fare, HBO was the place to go. The brand has now been diluted to a certain extent, with a profusion of shows and movies that could be branded either HBO or HBO Max on the streaming service.
Undoubtedly, it's a better economic bargain to pay $15.00 or so for a ton of programming on HBO Max, rather than a select number of shows and movies on the HBO of old. Maybe that's the point of concern: it was a good strategy in the old days. Nowadays, you gotta compete.
That also appears to be Disney's general programming strategy now in regard to Disney Plus: it was a good strategy in the old days. Nowadays, you gotta compete. If the Mouse House needs to keep gaining new eyeballs, who cares how much eyebrows are raised in the process?
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Next week sees the release of Pixar's newest feature film, Turning Red, directed by Domee Shi, exclusively on Disney Plus. My review will be appearing on another site, Screen Anarchy, but you don't need to wait to see a fabulous film by the same director.
In Bao, a Chinese-Canadian woman cooks a meal in the morning for her husband, who in turn hurries off to work. Finishing the last dumpling, the woman is shocked when the dumpling comes to life and runs away!
The film tells a complete, humorous, touching, wonderful story in just 7 minutes. Written and directed by Domee Shi, Bao played with Brad Bird's Incredibles 2 during its theatrical run in 2018, which is how I first saw it. It won an Academy Award as Best Animated Short Film the following year.
Because of Turning Red, I wanted to see something else by Domee Shi, which will have to wait until she makes something else. Watching Bao again, however, I remembered how much I liked it the first time around. I was also struck by certain themes and situations that are echoed and amplified in Turning Red.
Disney Plus has a wealth of short films on its service, which is great if you're short on time, and fantastic if you love watching the evolution of a moving art form develop through the years, which is possible by searching for the Walt Disney Animation Studios collection and then scrolling down the bottom, where you'll find the Short section. Dozens of animated shorts, from the early days of the studio to the present, await your happy discovery. [Disney Plus]